ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He was supposed to get sentenced to prison on Tuesday, but a federal judge has put a pause on a decision over how long a man will spend behind bars for shooting and killing a postal worker.
Xavier Zamora pleaded guilty last year to shooting and killing beloved postal worker Jose “Pepe” Hernandez in 2019. Prosecutors have asked for 22 years but learned on Tuesday that Zamora is questioning the plea deal he signed.
Zamora was 17 when the shooting happened outside of his home near 98th and Tower around four years ago. According to prosecutors, Zamora and his mom were fighting over drug money when she eventually ran out of the house, getting the attention of a mail carrier identified as Jose Hernandez.
The argument spilled outside, with Zamora cursing at, and even hitting, his mom. Prosecutors have said Hernandez, in part, told the teen “he shouldn’t hit a woman.” Zamora reportedly went inside the home to get a gun.
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Prosecutors argued Zamora shot Hernandez who was armed with dog repellent that he never used.
In the courtroom on Tuesday, the judge was expected to accept a 22-year prison sentence. However, Zamora claimed he was “confused” about the plea agreement; something that even surprised Zamora’s own attorney.
The judge listened to emotional testimony from Hernandez’s wife and brother about their loss, but in the end, the judge declined to finalize a decision on sentencing Tuesday. She mentioned she’ll give Zamora another two weeks to have his questions answered about the plea.
Zamora is facing 22 years in prison because he was only 17 when the murder happened. The judge indicated in court on Tuesday she’ll impose a final sentence at a hearing next month.